SELECTION COMMITTEE OF ART MADRID 2020

As every year, the Selection Committee of Art Madrid is in charge of assessing the applications of the galleries interested in participating in the general program of the fair. The team consists of renowned professionals in the contemporary art sector with a variety of profiles that reflects the diversity of the current cultural fabric. From curators, to critics, to representatives of the galleries, the purpose is to analyse the content of the proposals and select those that offer, for the whole fair, the most innovative, solvent and highest artistic quality in a process that takes into account, not only the career of the galleries and their professional performance, but also the coherence of the exhibition program for the fair, the career of the artists presented, or their consideration into the national and international creative panorama.

Image of Art Madrid'19, by Imanol Villota

The permanent work of Art Madrid has made it possible to improve its exhibition proposal in recent years. As Alfonso de la Torre noted with respect to the previous edition, the fair is characterised "by a notorious rigour of the selection of galleries and proposals (...). Innovative proposals and rigour, without excluding emotion, why not, have proved to be the support of the ideas of a renewed ART MADRID ".

In 2020 Art Madrid once again will count on the always accurate criteria of Ángel Samblancat, Alfonso de la Torre, Carlos Delgado Mayordomo and Javier López. Aurora Vigil-Escalera and Fernando Gómez de la Cuesta join this year the Committee.

 

Aurora Vigil-Escalera is the director of the homonymous gallery located in Gijón and has a very extensive career as a professional initiated within the family, because her father had founded and directed the Van Dyck gallery in which she began her career as a partner in 1984. This permanent connection with contemporary art has led the work of Aurora Vigil-Escalera, focused mainly on painting, sculpture and photography, who not only maintains regular programming in her space of Gijón, but has also focused on projecting work of its artists beyond our borders. This provides her with an exhaustive knowledge of contemporary reality in the global context and an accurate criterion to identify trends and support young talents from the beginning of their career.

 

Fernando Gómez de la Cuesta joins the Art Madrid project as curator of the One Project section, and will also contribute his experience and knowledge in the selection process for 2020. Fernando is an independent curator and critic with a long career. He has developed his professional profile in different contexts linked to contemporary art, both in the institutional field and the art market, and has extensive experience in working with artists. The direction of the PalmaPhoto photography festival, and the curating of CRIdA (residence of artists of the City Council of Palma), the I Festival of Contemporary Art of Saltillo-Mexico, and the MARTE Contemporary Art Fair are among his latest experiences. It also outstands his work as a teacher, speaker and coordinator of several training programs, workshops, conferences and seminars, mainly linked to universities, museums and contemporary art centres.

 

Alfonso de la Torre is a theoretician and art critic, specialising in contemporary Spanish art. He has curated numerous exhibitions, in addition to published essays and poetry and taught courses in centres such as the Reina Sofía Museum, the Teruel Museum, the University of the Andes, the University of Córdoba, the University of Granada, the University of Castilla-La Mancha or the Université de La Sorbonne. In his extensive experience, he has been the author of reasoned catalogues of artists such as Millares, the group "El Paso", Manuel Rivera and Palazuelo. From 2005 he curates an annual program of artistic interventions in the public space ("Ámbito Cultural-El Corte Inglés") during ARCOmadrid, with the collaboration of the regional government and the city hall of Madrid. He has coordinated one of the most complete studies on the birth and evolution of the art market in Spain from the postwar period to the present ("La España del Siglo XXI" (Sistema Foundation). In addition to directing the collection of photographic essays "El ojo que ves"(University of Córdoba-La Fábrica), he is Vice-president of the Pilar Citoler Foundation and responsible for the conservation of her Collection.

 

Carlos Delgado Mayordomo is a curator of contemporary art, as well as a critic and professor. His vertiginous career has developed mainly in the field of institutional curatorship in Spain and Latin America, where he has worked with numerous museums and cultural centres. He is currently art critic at ABC Cultural, professor of the Master in Art Market of the Nebrija University and responsible for exhibitions of the Department of Culture of the City of Las Rozas of Madrid. He has coordinated exhibition projects at the Fundación Fondo Internacional de las Artes / FIArt, the Cidade da Cultura Foundation of Santiago de Compostela, Tabacalera Promoción del Arte, DA2 Salamanca Art Centre and the Tomás y Valiente Art Centre, among many others. Also, his work as a critic and theoretician has led to numerous research articles in specialised journals and publications in collective books. Between 2014 and 2018 he joined as a curator of the One Project section of Art Madrid, and since then he has been part of the Selection Committee of the fair.

 

Ángel Samblancat has an extensive career devoted entirely to contemporary art. Besides his work at the head of the Editorial and Gallery of Art Polígrafa Obra Gráfica of Barcelona for more than forty years, he was also assistant to the director of the Joan Prats Gallery (Barcelona) since its foundation. The experience of Ángel in technical and selection committees is extensive. He was member of the Jury for the Graphic Work Triennial of Grenchen (Switzerland) and was part of the selection committees of international fairs of high prestige such as Art Chicago (Illinois), Art Miami (Florida), Art Los Angeles (California), ARCO (Madrid), Art Cologne (Germany), Art Basel (Switzerland), ArtBo-Bogotá (Colombia) and Art Basel / Miami Beach (Florida). He has also developed as a critic and consultant in large art collections.

 

Javier López Vélez is the director of 3 Punts Art Gallery, based in Barcelona. He is an expert in Technical Drawing of Projects and has studied Sociology. Throughout his career, he has worked as an independent curator in several institutional exhibitions in Barcelona, Hospitalet and Andorra. Under his direction, the gallery maintains a complete program of exhibitions that includes between seven and eight individual shows a year, with a clear evolution towards the new artistic languages. In addition, the Gallery 3 Punts has made a strong commitment to gain international presence and help consolidate the career of national artists beyond our borders through participation in fairs such as Kunstrai Amsterdam, Context Miami, Context Art New York or Art Stage Singapore, among many others, a work to which they have been faithful for more than two decades.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.